Sunday, January 15, 2012

Sungei Buloh Nature Reserve

We went to Sungei Buloh Nature Reserve for our family outing this week (completing one of my 101 in 1001 goals since it's migration season right now!). This is a preserved area of mangrove forest and riverine habitat, something very special in Singapore as most of the other similar areas has been transformed into landfill or container ports.
Going to Sungei Buloh is kind of like entering another world: The Planet of Lizards. Almost the first thing we saw when we got there was a salt-water crocodile, perhaps 7 feet long. This species is very aggressive and deadly, and for that reason there were signs all over the reserve warning visitors to be on their guard (little R took her duty seriously). They also had anti-crocodile fencing in certain areas.
Sungei Buloh is dominated numerically by another species: the monitor lizards. The Komodo dragon is actually a variety of monitor lizard, so as you can imagine the Malayan water monitors in Singapore also can get rather large: the biggest one we saw was about 6 feet, and eating a foot-long, still wriggling fish. The monitor lizards were all over the place: they can swim, climb trees, and run surprisingly fast, so they had every habitat covered. We also saw many species of birds, including egrets, herons, kingfishers, plovers, and orioles. Otters live there too, but unfortunately we didn't see them.
Little R had a good time practicing walking and carrying a stick around like a dog. Perhaps she thought it would help fend off crocodiles? She also enjoyed covering herself in leaf mold. The monitor lizards and other wildlife didn't seem to impress her whatsoever though: I suppose she is still too little to care.
Even though it was Sunday, the park was very uncrowded (the only visitors were other white foreigners). Admission is $1, and you could easily spend most of the day there, especially if you have an interest in wildlife/bird watching. They had a very nice cafe-restaurant, with a view of a pond full of turtles, fish, and monitor lizards. I would highly recommend a visit to Sungei Buloh if you have any interest in wildlife or nature.

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